Coach K One-and-done
Coach K is entering his final season at the helm of Duke men’s basketball, so here are his top five recruits in the one-and-done era. (Photo by Streeter Lecka / Getty Images)

Here are the Top Five Coach K Recruits in the One-and-Done Era

Coach K is entering his final year at the helm of Duke’s men’s basketball and recently, nothing has dominated Duke basketball like the one-and-done era. Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum of one-and-done opinions, the influx of freshmen talent for over a decade has been nothing short of impressive. And Mike Krzyzewski and Duke have certainly capitalized on that talent. Let’s take a look at the five best Coach K recruits in the one-and-done era.

Coach K One-and-Done No. 1: Zion Williamson

Could it really be anyone else? Zion held the college basketball world in the palm of his hand for the better part of five months. He was the Wooden Award winner, ACC Player of the Year, ACC Tournament Player of the Year, and was one late rotation from going to the Final Four. He averaged 22.6 points and 8.9 rebounds per game. He was a nightmare to defend and the high flying acrobatics were a national spectacle. He’s the best one-and-done player in Duke history by a country mile and could very well be the best one-and-done player ever.

Coach K One-and-Done No. 2: Jahlil Okafor

The only national champion on this list, I feel like Okafor’s struggles in the NBA have caused people to forget how much of a problem he was for one year at Duke. His footwork and touch around the rim was a class above everyone else. I’m still mad Frank Kaminsky was declared the Wooden Award winner over Big Jah. He averaged 17.3 points and 8.5 rebounds per game as a Blue Devil. While he did not play up to his level in the national championship game, his rebounding and ball screening in particular helped Duke secure Coach K’s fifth national title.

Coach K One-and-Done No. 3: Marvin Bagley III

Marvin Bagley III was a menace. His second bounce was one of the quickest I have ever seen. And what’s crazy about his attacking arsenal is that is was very scout-able. Bagley had a good face-up game, but most coaches would give him a deep two or semi-contested three any day of the week. Still, he’d knock down one or two a game. He seemingly only went left and yet when you forced him right, he still found a way to make a fall-away floater or turn inside onto his left hand and make a touch shot over the front of the rim. He could score at will and was a great rebounder, averaging 21.0 points and 11.1 rebounds per game.

Coach K One-and-Done No. 4: Jabari Parker

Another one of the guys on this list who had a stellar freshman season at Duke but has struggled in the NBA due to nagging injuries and limited minutes. Still, Parker was a great one-and-done player for Krzyzewski. The Chicago, IL native was the ACC Rookie of the Year and a consensus All-American, but that loss to Mercer in the Round of 64 will forever haunt Duke fans. Regardless, he was an elite freshman, averaging 19.1 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. It’s unfortunate how his pro career has turned out.

Coach K One-and-Done No. 5: R.J. Barrett

A casualty to the star power of Zion, maybe. But R.J. Barrett was no second fiddle. While some may forget how stellar of a player he was a freshman, the Duke faithful will not. The Canadian was level with Zion in scoring, averaging 22.6 points per game. Barrett did set the single-season freshman scoring record in the ACC too. Sure he took some questionable shots, but the man could really score. He’s got a good future with the Knicks.

Honorable Mentions: Tyus Jones, Kyrie Irving and Luol Deng

These three guys were elite level players in their own right, but just didn’t crack the top five. Jones will be a Duke icon for as long as he lives after coming off the high pick-and-roll and nailing a three with a minute and 24 remaining in the 2015 national title game against Wisconsin. Kyrie Irving was hampered with an injury that kept him to 11 games as a freshman, but when he was on the court, he was spectacular. I wish we could’ve had a full season of Kyrie because that 2010-11 Duke team could have repeated as national champions. And finally Luol Deng. While he may be overlooked by younger fans, he was a force on that 2003-04 team. Averaging 15.1 points and 6.9 rebounds per game, he helped lead the Blue Devils to the Final Four. In all, 22 players have turned pro after their freshman seasons at Duke and Coach K should have one final batch with Paolo Banchero and A.J. Griffin in Durham this season.


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